As I start to write a blog centered around food, the first step I probably need to do is figure out what food actually means to me. The standard summary of it feeds us, it fuels us, it makes us not-hungry comes to mind (and is the obvious answer) but food means so much more and is so different, for so many.
Personally, food has always been in control of my life. When I was younger, I was in charge of “cooking” dinner and having it ready when dad arrived home. Unfortunately, this meant many nights of box pizza, hot dogs and french fries, sometimes just ice cream sundaes, pasta or raviolis, and the occasional vegetable (covered in mayonnaise). True story, I’m being a bit dramatic here, as I’m sure my dad and grandmother would cook for us some nights, and I’m sure those plates are what the USDA would call healthy but the point of the story is… my schedule was mapped out by meals to feed the people who took care of me.
Luckily, when I went to college, my palate began to expand. I met new people in places I had never been before, experiencing different cultures and delights. I was exposed to how other families gathered, what my friends would eat, and all the good smells that came from these homes and restaurants. I went from eating very plain food with little to no greenery on the plate, to craving coconut curry vegetables, and sushi, and duck, and seafood, and things I had never tried before just because I wanted to know the taste.
But at the center of these meals, above the memory of the food… were laughs, and love, sometimes tears, once a fight, and great conversation… it is the memory of the people I was with.
I guess food to me means family. The definition of family is a whole other post, but what I’m trying to say is food gives me a sense of place and comfort.
These days, most nights out of the week, I enjoy eating alone (does that sound weird?). Work is crazy, the holidays are nuts, life is not slowing down, and I’m noticing more and more that food is great way to ground me. I guess you could say it still controls my schedule… In a way that reminds me to stop working, call a friend, or my family, and distract myself with a purpose. As the Culinary Institute of America would say, “Food is LIfe” and I see that as… Food is me.